Berkeley Law’s Edley launches educational institute

Berkeley Law professor and former dean Christopher Edley has launched a nonprofit organization that aims to use education and related social policies to improve young people’s outcomes from early childhood through early career.

Christopher Edley

Christopher Edley

Edley believes “education is the Great Black Hope,” he wrote in a Huffington Post blog post announcing the launch of the Berkeley-based Opportunity Institute.

“It worked for my parents’ escape from Jim Crow poverty in Virginia,” he continued. “I have held fast to that belief through my work on domestic and economic policy issues in six presidential campaigns, in two presidential transitions, on two White House staffs and in 35 years as a professor.”

In a press release, he described his approach: “This new organization is combating the cycle of poverty with a cycle of opportunity, attacking the obstacles to success at critical stages in life. At The Opportunity Institute, our approach to complex challenges is unique. We work across traditional issue silos and disciplinary perspectives, using an exceptionally broad range of tools to promote change at the local, state and national levels.”

Edley is the Honorable William H. Orrick, Jr. Distinguished Professor of Law at Berkeley Law, where he was dean from 2004 through 2013.

Co-founder of the Opportunity Institute with Edley is Ann O’Leary,  a former senior vice president at Next Generation, a nonprofit that works on child and family issues. Financier and climate change activist Tom Steyer, a founder of Next Generation and Next Gen Climate, serves as board chair.  board.

More details on the Opportunity Institute are available in the San Francisco Chronicle, the Washington Post and at